When DesignGirl told me that we were meeting up with MadamMilton, BaguetteGirl, and DermaMan for Vietnamese food, I thought we were just going to get pho. Boy, was I mistaken! We headed to Phnom Penh, where the menu items are as diverse as our pronunciations for the restaurant name.
Phnom Penh is tucked away in Chinatown, and its tasty treasures are masked behind its ordinary exterior and red and white sign board. But inside the restaurant, things were hustlin’ and bustlin’. DesignGirl had dined here previously, so she knew all the right things to order.
With most meals, you get complementary soup, sprouts and hot sauce.
We started off with the Rice Special A – a Vietnamese hodpodge of rice, grilled chicken, Vietnamese ham, egg, and sides of lettuce. This reminded me a bit of Korean bibimbap, as you have to get a little bit of everything and mix the rice all up in it. I drizzled a bit of their mild vinegar over my bowl, and it sure was delish! DermaMan said that this was his favorite dish of the day.
We then ventured onwards to try the phnom papaya salad, which BaguetteGirl ordered since she loves papayas. I couldn’t quite taste the papaya here, as it felt more like radish. It consisted of ‘papaya’, peanuts, hot peppers, shrimp, and mint. It was definitely refreshing and crispy, but because it was so rainy and cold outside, it was more difficult for me to appreciate a cold dish.
Up next was the phnom 2 noodle. The “2” in the name is for the two types of noodles in this bowl. Upon a first glance, you would think this was another ordinary bowl of pho, but it sure wasn’t! The broth was not msg-ridden compared to other pho places, and the noodles were delicate and cooked perfectly. There was also shrimp and other Vietnamese hams and meats in it. You can eat this with the side of bean sprouts they brought. I liked this dish so much, I had two bowls.
What’s a trip to Phnom Penh without ordering their famous wings? Each table in the restaurant had an order of their wings, which were tossed in chilli pepper flakes and came with a side dipping sauce that was slightly tart and peppery. Wow! I was so surprised when I bit into this chicken – it was moist, and juicy, but incredibly flavorful, especially with the dip. I will definitely order this again.
Finally, the moment we were all waiting for arrived: the butter beef. The butter beef is akin to a beef carpaccio in that it features raw beef (slightly cooked around the edges) in a mild soy like sauce, overlaid with ample cilantro and peanuts. This was an incredible mélange of flavors and textures. MadamMilton was very skeptical about eating raw beef and kept telling us she was waiting for “20 minutes to pass” to see if any one of us would rush to the bathroom. None of us did and she gobbled down the butter beef happily.
By then, we were stuffed. DermaMan had ordered a moomooshake, which was a strawberry iced milk shake. It looked very…cold, so I didn’t not sample it. But everyone else that tried it liked it quite a bit.
DesignGirl also ordered an iced Vietnamese coffee, while I got a hot Vietnamese coffee. The Vietnamese coffee came in an espress drip tin, and a cup with condensed milk (your creamer + sugar, essentially). It was so delicious and rich! However, the caffeine concentration in this drink really messed me up and I was dizzy and had heart arrhythmia for the rest of the day.
Phnom Penh is located in Chinatown. We left around 2pm, and the restaurant was still packed and had line ups for lunch diners.
Words of Wisdom:
- Very busy during peak hours…line up for sure!
- Marinated Butter beef, Chicken Wings, Deep fried squid!!! Order it now!
- Metered parking on street
- Kinda sketch looking area….near chinatown